We were scheduled to leave the Symphony at 9am, so I got up at 6:30 to sit on my verandah, sipping piping hot coffee as I watched one of the most beautiful arrivals in the world (have I mentioned the total joy that is room service on the Symphony? Anything you want, at any time. It is truly fabulous). The rising sun lightly touched some of the 30 000 little islands that make up the Stockholm archipelago as we slid silently past… beautiful.
Where is Stockholm? – Stockholm Map – Stockholm Map Download Free Photo Gallery
But over the past 10 days, the Symphony had become my home, and I was surprised at how sad I was to be leaving. The idea of actually having to concern myself with details like where I’d be sleeping and what I’d be eating suddenly seemed a bit daunting. Fortunately, ABBA The Museum felt like a home from home: I headed straight there.
The costumes! The bling! The songs! The hair! The helicopter! It was a total delight, and you cannot possibly go to Stockholm without going there too. When I got over the shock of having to pay for everything myself again (Stockholm is heart-stoppingly expensive), I found loads to do in this beautiful and creative city. Built across 14 islands, you’d be hard-pressed to find an area that isn’t within a stone’s throw of water, which means the light and the views are always gorgeous. Being midsummer, it was light until at least midnight, and I felt completely safe walking around on my own. I walked the length of Queen Street, which is famous for its excellent shopping, but – ahem – the ZAR doesn’t fare that well in Sweden, it turns out. Gamla Stan, the old town, rivals Tallinn in terms of well-preserved beauty and quaintness: the perfect place for a calming coffee and cake… a Swedish tradition called Fika, which I thoroughly approve of. And I loved Fotografiska, the famous photography gallery on the waterfront.
I went with my far more knowledgeable friend Sylvie to see the Irving Penn exhibition, which was magnificent – and then we happened upon a series of quite disturbing photographs taken in a cloning laboratory in South Korea. Afterwards, we popped upstairs to the Fotografiska restaurant for a fortifying glass of wine, as one must – and were soothed by the huge picture windows with uninterrupted views of the city across the water, including a very flash hotel proudly called the Kak Hotel, which made us laugh… maybe it was the wine.
The Mosebacke design district is home to really impressive local Swedish design as well as some great vintage stores. The Swedes are very well-heeled, but Stockholm is cool and hipster-y. I just had time to squeeze in a visit to IKEA, where I could afford a few small goodies and, more importantly, sample their Swedish meatballs. It was also a good way to bump myself gently back down to earth after a fairytale break. We squeezed so much into those two weeks, but it would probably have been too timeconsuming and exhausting to do it in any other way. Cruising is what made it all possible.
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